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Agencies Looking for Art Therapists Can Receive Assistance

Medical settings — including support centers, clinics, and hospitals — can benefit through a program to put patients at ease using art therapy.

Arts in Medicine, a partnership between the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and Emporia State University, is accepting applications until Oct. 5 from associations, agencies and organizations providing medical services to Kansans to benefit patients as well as to agency personnel.

This is the third year of this collaboration which offers opportunities for medical agencies and organizations in Kansas to introduce unique psychosocial programming.

“The global pandemic is changing the way medical services are provided and compounding stress levels; patients feel the strain, and medical staff do as well,” said Dr. Gaelynn Wolf Bordonaro, director of Emporia State University’s Art Therapy Program.

“The graduate art therapy interns and art therapy supervisor will work with agencies to design programming for patients, staff, caregivers, and/or families to meet CDC and agency guidelines and protocols, including online sessions, online drop-in studio groups, outdoor workshops, and more,” explained Wolf Bordonaro.

If accepted, the applicant agency will work with Emporia State art therapy faculty and two second-year graduate art therapy students to build medical arts programming and scheduling to meet the needs of specified populations and the agency.

Applicants should be interested in offering patients, clients, or staff art therapy services such as, but not limited to:

  • Group art therapy programming designed to meet the psycho-social needs of patients, care givers or medical personnel
  • Individual art therapy for patients receiving treatment (i.e. cancer treatments or transfusions)
  • Art-based workshops for medical personnel or clinicians in training (stress relief, group bonding, etc.)
  • Arts-based programs at special events (grief camps, open houses, etc.)

Applicants must be Kansas-based institutions, organizations or associations that provide medical services to Kansas residents. Applications are welcome from agencies that serve all age and developmental levels. Art experience and art skills are not necessary.

Applications are due by October 5, 2020. Applications will be reviewed and evaluated by a panel including members of KCAIC, ESU and art therapy professionals. Applications can be submitted at

The Benefits of Medical Art Therapy

Provided by Dr. Gaelynn P. Wolf Bordonaro ATR-BC, Director of the Emporia State University Art Therapy Program

Art therapy can be used in a variety of medical settings, including support centers, clinics, and hospitals (Czamanski-Cohen, 2012). Patients express themselves while exploring issues regarding their hospitalization and illness, including impact on daily living, relationships, treatment concerns, belief systems, support systems, etc. (Medical Art Therapy, 2014; Minar, 1999; Nainis et al., 2006; Schriener and Wolf Bordonaro, 2012; Wolf Bordonaro, 2003). Benefits of art therapy include:

  • Improved blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration (Malchiodi, 2007).
  • Stress reduction (Bell & Robbins, 2007; Leckey, 2011; Schrade, Tronsky, & Kaiser, 2011; Ulrich, 1992).
  • Decreased anxiety (Walsh, Martin, & Schmidt, 2004; Walsh & Weiss, 2003).
  • Opportunities for emotional release (Council, 1993)
  • Reduced resistance related to medical procedures (Favara-Scacco, Di Cataldo, Smirne, & Schiliro, 2001)
  • Increased positive behavior with others, including medical staff, visitors, or family members (Favara-Scacco, Di Cataldo, Smirne, & Schiliro, 2001)
  • Decreased negative symptoms, such as tiredness and anxiety (Nainis, Paice, Ratner, Wirth, & Shott, 2006)
  • Increased healthy coping skills (Nainis, Paice, Ratner, Wirth, & Shott, 2006)
  • Decreased distress symptoms (Monti et al., 2006)
  • Reduced anxiety and stress for family caregivers (Walsh, Radcliffe, Castillo, Kubar, & Broschard, 2007)
  • Increased positive emotions such as, joy, humor, spontaneity, and flow (Reynolds & Prior, 2003; Walsh & Weiss, 2003; Walsh, Martin, & Schmidt, 2004).
  • Increased mindfulness and awareness (Collie, Bottorff, & Long, 2006; Nainis, 2005; Reynolds & Prior, 2003; Reynolds, 2004a)
  • Reduced rates of depression in cancer patients on chemotherapy (Bar-Sela, Atid, Danos, Gabay, & Epelbaum, 2007)
  • Reduced depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms (Thyme et al., 2009)
  • Improved self-confidence and readjustment after cancer diagnosis and treatment (Luzzatto & Gabriel, 2000)
  • Improved medical decision making processes (Czamanski-Cohen, 2012)
  • Increased relaxation, communication, and expression (Forzoni, Perez, Martignetti, & Crispino, 2010)
  • Restoration of self-identity and personal worth (Collie, Bottorff, & Long, 2006; Luzzatto & Gabriel, 2000)
  • Engagement in generative, empathetic and altruistic acts (Appleton, 2001; Reynolds & Prior, 2003)
  • Opportunities to leave concrete “legacies” (Piccirillo, 1999; Rutenberg, 2008)
  • Reinforced sense of ability (Nainis, 2008)
  • Discovery of inner strengths which compensate for losses caused by illness (McGraw, 1999; Minar, 1999)
  • Increased positive communication (Walsh & Weiss, 2003)
  • Parents of children who receive art therapy are more relaxed and better able to cope with medical events (Favara-Scacco, Di Cataldo, Smirne, & Schiliro, 2001)